Not Limber Enough for Yoga

The Mississippi Press, September 2006

My quest for optimum health goes on and this week it has led me to yoga. I must admit that I approach yoga with a certain hesitancy. I do believe in the benefits of yoga, but I've had a bad experience with it. A few years back, I had a girlfriend who was really into yoga and was quite good at it. So, one day she decided to teach me the basics. Well, the relationship went south shortly after that session and I will always believe it was the sight of my large and somewhat flabby body doing some position called downward facing dog that soured the romance.

So now, even though my fiancee, Donna, is really into yoga, and I'm a little slimmer after losing 20 pounds this summer, I still have not asked her to show me any moves. The idea of taking a yoga class with a whole bunch of other people just seems outrageous. Yoga is a very private thing to me. So instead of seeking help, the other day while Donna was gone, I took out one of her DVDs and went through a session by myself with a television hostess named Wai Lana. I like the idea of being taught something exotic like yoga by a woman with an exotic name.

We started off with a very simple move. You take your hands and extend them over your head for a big stretch and then bend your spine backward just a little. It was like waking up in the morning. It felt great. I'm thinking this is a snap. She got a little more difficult when she went to her knees. Her feet flatted under her and she told me to sit down on the heels of my feet. Well, my feet didn't flatten and sitting on my heels was uncomfortable. In fact, it hurt. So, I didn't do that part. Then she went into this pelvic stretch where the knees spread out in opposite directions, the head goes forward and the belly, I think, is supposed to go to the floor. "Just let gravity take you on down," she said. Yeah, right. I was thinking that I could get into that position, but I'll never be able to get back up without help. I went to retrieve my cell phone to keep by my side in case I needed to call someone like an EMT. I did do the pelvic stretch, but it didn't look like hers. She went to a lying down position that felt really good. I loved that one, even if it wasn't really a position. Of course, she had more instructions from there. It was at this point that I realized Wai Lana has no bones in her body. Perhaps her ligaments and tendons are not attached the way mine are. She is as limp as a rag doll. I was truly amazed.

The point where she lost me completely is when she lifted her legs and feet over her head and touched the ground in back of her. It's hard to explain the move, but I can tell you that if I had accomplished the move, I would be either dead or in traction today. Even though I didn't do a lot of the moves on the tape, I attempted a lot of them and did get a workout, of sorts. Donna tells me practice is the key. But really, I'm just proud to have made it through without injury. That's success.

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